Expert says Iranian government is responding to protests with violence

Jan 10, 2023, 7:00 AM
OCTOBER 22: Protestors attend at a rally organised by the "Women Life Freedom Collective" in solida...
OCTOBER 22: Protestors attend at a rally organised by the "Women Life Freedom Collective" in solidarity with women and protesters in Iran on October 22, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. The demonstration is taking place as protests continue in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by Iranian authorities in September. Over 200 people have died in Iran in heavy-handed tactics by police against protesters. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

TEHRAN, Iran — The Iranian government has executed two men following months of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman killed while in morality police custody.

Deputy Director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran Jasmin Ramsey joins KSL at Night hosts Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan to discuss what this means for the movement.

Politically charged cases and the Iranian Government

Each of the two men was accused of killing a member of the paramilitary force that is overseen by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Ramsey says the judicial process in Iran “doesn’t incorporate any form of due process,” when it comes to political cases.

“So the state can charge you with anything they want,” she says. “There is a law that says that you can be blocked from obtaining a lawyer for a week or more after you’ve been detained.”

She says during this time, accused individuals are held in complete isolation, interrogated and could even be tortured.

“There are no independent observers or human rights experts that are allowed to oversee prisons or detention centers in Iran,” Ramsey says.

She says the men could not even choose a lawyer. Rather they were choosing from a list provided by the state.

“So in summary, the system is rigged against these people from the beginning,” she says. “I understand you have to talk about the charges against them, but there’s just no chance for these people to prove themselves innocent. And the … quote evidence that they use against them are forced false confessions extracted under torture.”

Iranian government is responding with violence

Ramsey says the Iranian government feels cornered. It has been years since its people were challenging it in this way. The government’s only means is violence, she says.

“That’s why so many people are actually calling for an end to the Islamic republic,” she says. “They see no way forward in a country where there’s really a crisis of impunity.”

Additionally, Ramsey says no one being held accountable for Amini’s death is feeding the fire.

“Meanwhile, more than 500 protesters, … this is [a] minimum number estimate, have been killed including more than 70 Children,” she says. “Thousands of protesters have been arrested and now they’re executing people.”

Protestors response

“For every one you kill, there’s 1,000 of us behind them.”

Ramsey says protestors are chanting the above statement and reinforcing the need for real social and political change within the country.

“The fact that protests are still going on today in the face of such brutal and extreme lethal violence is truly stunning,” she says.

According to Ramsey, over 70% of Iran’s population is under 30 years of age. These are the individuals leading the protests, she says, many of them women.

“Just remember protest is a life-threatening act in Iran. So when you see these people, they’re really the leaders,” she says. “So much of the population wants to [protest] but they’re terrified.”

What can the U.S. do?

When it comes to how the U.S. Government can help the situation in Iran, Ramsey says it should not be signing the nuclear deal with the country at this moment.

“To inject large flocks of cash to this government would be ludicrous and absolutely complicit in and helping the government kill the protesters,” she says.

As for American citizens, she says keep up the solidarity.

“There’s been beautiful expressions of solidarity from many Americans and the most important thing is to keep it up,” she says. “Sign a petition, join a protest, hold an Iran event [in] your community or your organization. The worst thing for the Iranian government is that the world maintains the light on what is happening. It wants its abuses to happen in the darkness.”

KSL at Night can be heard most weekdays from 7 to 9 p.m.

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Expert says Iranian government is responding to protests with violence